Preparing For True/False/Cannot Say Verbal Reasoning Tests

True/ false/ cannot say is one of the most popular verbal reasoning question formats to appear in employers' tests. Providers such as CEB-SHL, Kenexa, Cubiks, Pearson and more all use true/ false/ cannot say in their verbal reasoning tests. Learn how to answer these questions, and take practice tests with JobTestPrep.
 
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True/ false/ cannot say questions appear in most employers’ assessment tests. True/ false/ cannot say questions are used to both evaluate verbal application abilities or higher level critical reasoning skills. The difficulty comes from the nature and content of the texts and the complexity of the questions asked.

True/ false/ cannot say questions can be daunting, and it may be difficult to know where to start. There are many approaches out there. We asked our JobTestPrep test writers for their advice on how to approach verbal reasoning tests. They focused on two key points: one, understand what the three possible answers mean, and the second, reading the passage and time management.

One of the most important things to know before taking a verbal reasoning test with true/ false/ cannot say questions is what the terms actually mean.

True - the statement is true as it logically follows on from the information or opinions contained in the passage.
False - the statement is logically false based on the information or opinions contained in the passage.
Cannot say - it is impossible to decide whether the statement is true or false without more information.

Let’s take a look at what true means in more detail.

  • A statement is true if the information given in the statement is given explicitly in the passage. In this case:
  • The statement typically summarises a complex piece of information given in the passage using rephrases and/ or synonym words and terms.
  • Sometimes, the statement brings together pieces of information that are given in different places in the passage. Find these pieces of information and verify that each piece is true for the whole statement to be true.
  • A statement is also true if you can correctly infer its content from the information.
  • In this case, there must be enough information to make the inference.
  • Remember to rely SOLELY on the information introduced in the passage. Even if your general knowledge and familiarity with the topic presented suggest that the information is invalid, you must assume that it is the passage alone that can supply facts and information for decision making. In other words, there is no obligation that the information in the passage will be 100% correct.
  • Make sure your inference doesn't over generalise the details of the passage, even if it seems like a definitive conclusion. Any seemingly correct answer which presents a broader inference than the one supported by the passage falls into the cannot say category.
Our online verbal reasoning practice packs contain more information about what these terms mean.
Verbal reasoning tests are taken under timed conditions. This is deliberate to enable employers to see how you work under pressure, and to measure your speed and accuracy. Read our tips below for dealing with time pressures in a verbal reasoning test.


  • You must first consider your solving strategy. Try and apply two strategies, and see which of those suits you best:
  • Start by reading the passage.
  • Start by reading the question.
  • Choosing the first strategy, read each passage once very carefully. Add the meaning of each sentence to the one before it, trying to draw a mental "map" of the information and the logic in the passage.
  • If a sentence confuses you, reread it and the one before it.
  • If the meaning of a word or phrase is unclear to you, try to grasp its meaning using the context in which it is used. This is very important, since the verbal reasoning section examines both your comprehension and vocabulary skills.
  • Notice extreme words that refer to: Exclusion, inclusion, prohibition, negation, etc. Remember that the relations between the different parts of the passage is sometimes more important than their actual content.
  • Pay close attention to qualifiers, since they are frequently used as determiners for the correct answer. Only extreme qualifiers such as all/ none/ always/ never apply to the entire group of their object. Qualifiers such as few/ some, many/ most, still leave place for exceptions.
  • Some people believe that it is pointless to read the passage first without knowing the questions. This is not true - it is to be decided upon self-experience.
  • If you choose the strategy of starting by reading the question, you should scan the passage cursorily and locate the relevant section of the text. Doing so, carefully read adjacent sentences, and try to infer the correct answer from them.
  • In most cases, the statements are ordered with respect to the passage's progress.

Simply put, practice = improvement.
In our experience, practising true/ false/ cannot say verbal tests leads to four areas of improvement:
  • Faster response times.
  • Improvement of concentration in tests.
  • Improvement of critical reasoning skills.
  • Increase in self confidence in the tests.

It is these four areas of improvement which will increase your score in verbal reasoning tests.
One of the purposes of practising before a test is to familiarise yourself with the test format. Here we give you a sneak peek at the format of our verbal reasoning tests. Below the passage is a statement, the answer, and explanation for this answer.

Two studies published recently show that 13 of 16 children treated with gene therapy – treating diseases by correcting a patient's faulty genes - for severe combined immune deficiency, or SCID, have had their immune systems restored.

The best treatment for the disease is a bone marrow transplant from an immunologically matched sibling. But, when no matched donor is available, unmatched donors, such as parents, are recruited; these transplants are only around 70 percent successful. The success of gene therapy now rivals or betters that seen in these unmatched donor situations.

In 2001, a child in the trial developed leukaemia, thought to have been induced by a component in the modified virus, or vector, the researchers used to insert the correct gene into the boy's cells. Of the 30 children worldwide who have been treated with gene therapy for another form of SCID, marked by a deficiency in the enzyme adenosine deaminase (ADA), none has developed leukaemia. Yet medical researchers maintain that gene therapy is still a better alternative than the conventional treatment for X-linked SCID in some children because 19 of the 20 children who have received gene therapy for X-linked SCID are still alive. When told these odds, all parents of children with X-linked SCID have opted for gene therapy.


Two studies published recently show that 13 of 16 children treated with gene therapy – treating diseases by correcting a patient's faulty genes - for severe combined immune deficiency, or SCID, have had their immune systems restored.
The best treatment for the disease is a bone marrow transplant from an immunologically matched sibling. But, when no matched donor is available, unmatched donors, such as parents, are recruited; these transplants are only around 70 percent successful. The success of gene therapy now rivals or betters that seen in these unmatched donor situations.
In 2001, a child in the trial developed leukaemia, thought to have been induced by a component in the modified virus, or vector, the researchers used to insert the correct gene into the boy's cells. Of the 30 children worldwide who have been treated with gene therapy for another form of SCID, marked by a deficiency in the enzyme adenosine deaminase (ADA), none has developed leukaemia. Yet medical researchers maintain that gene therapy is still a better alternative than the conventional treatment for X-linked SCID in some children because 19 of the 20 children who have received gene therapy for X-linked SCID are still alive. When told these odds, all parents of children with X-linked SCID have opted for gene therapy.


Statement 1

Only 1 child with ADA deficiency related SCID got leukaemia.


This statement is false, since it directly contradicts a sentence within the passage: "Of the 30 children worldwide who have been treated with gene therapy for another form of SCID, marked by a deficiency in the enzyme adenosine deaminase (ADA), none has developed leukaemia."

It is a bit misleading since it is also mentioned that "a child in the trial developed leukaemia", and in addition "19 of the 20 children who have received gene therapy for X-linked SCID are still alive". The combinations of these two sentences might give rise to an inference that the child who had leukaemia is the 20th child. This may be true, but it is not true that this child had an ADA deficiency related SCID. Note how this observation is drawn directly from the mental map.
JobTestPrep offer verbal reasoning practice packs that are full of useful resources to help you improve your scores. Our packs are designed according the test provider your employer is using, so you can familiarise yourself with your test ahead of taking it. Our packs contain advice and resources aimed at helping you understand true/ false/ cannot say specifically, including video tutorials, expert advice, practice questions and explanation of answers.


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